One more Indian succumbs to injuries in Kuwait building blaze

Fire caused by electrical short circuit

PTI, Jun 14, 2024, 6:03 PM IST

Dubai/Kuwait City: The death toll of Indians killed in the massive fire in Kuwait has risen to 46 with one more person succumbing to injuries as authorities said that an electrical short circuit in the room of the guard on the ground floor of the building caused the blaze that killed 50 people.

Most deaths were due to smoke inhalation while residents in the six-storey building were sleeping when the fire broke out early Wednesday in Kuwait’s southern Ahmadi Governorate. The building was home to 196 migrant workers, mostly Indians.

“One of the injured died” overnight, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Abdullah Al-Yahya told reporters, raising the death toll of Indians to 46.

Three other deceased are Filipinos and the identity of one of the victims has not been established, the Kuwait Times newspaper reported on Friday.

The investigation team of the fire department said on Thursday that the fire was caused by an electric short circuit in the room of the building guard and spread to other places. The guard’s room is located on the ground floor.

Citing security sources, the paper said that there were 179 workers inside the building when the fire broke out, while 17 were outside. Of the 196 residents, 175 are Indians, 11 are Filipinos and the rest are from Thailand, Pakistan and Egypt.

According to an official, many of the victims suffocated while trying to run down the stairs because they were filled with smoke. He added that the victims could not go to the rooftop because the door was locked.

The Accident Investigation Department’s teams concluded their technical inspections, which included analyzing samples of fire debris and conducting interviews with witnesses present during the incident, English language daily Arab Times reported, citing a press statement.

Their investigation determined that the fire originated in the security guard’s room located on the ground floor of the six-story building, the paper said.

The specialists from the Investigations Department meticulously examined the site to ascertain the exact cause of the fire. Their findings unequivocally pointed to an electrical short circuit as the root cause, the statement said.

This discovery underscores the importance of adhering to electrical safety protocols to prevent such tragic incidents in the future, it added.

Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah, serving as the First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, and Minister of Defence, on Thursday headed an overall inspection campaign on illegal properties in many areas in Kuwait.

The minister, accompanied by the Minister of Public Works and Minister of Municipality Dr. Nora Al-Mashaan began their inspection campaign in Al-Mangaf, Al-Mahboula, Khaitan, and Jileeb Al-Shuyoukh, the paper said.

The Interior Ministry, Kuwait Municipality, Kuwait Fire Force, Ministry of Electricity and Water and Public Authority for Manpower took part in the campaign.

Kuwait Municipality said on Thursday its teams had shut down 568 irregular basements of residential and commercial buildings in the past ten months. The personnel issued 1,639 citations and “blocked” 596 properties. Moreover, up to 189 basements packed with various unlicensed items had been evacuated.

Citing sources in the Public Authority of Manpower (PAM), the paper said the National Center for Health and Safety affiliated with PAM will launch extensive campaigns in labour accommodations in all governorates of Kuwait especially those known to house large numbers of workers.

Meanwhile, a Kuwaiti citizen and several foreigners have been arrested in connection with charges of manslaughter and causing injuries due to negligence in security and safety measures following the fire incident.

“The Public Prosecution has mandated the provisional detention of a Kuwaiti citizen and several expats in connection with charges of manslaughter and causing injuries due to negligence in security and safety measures, following a fire incident in the Al-Mangaf area,” the paper reported.

Kuwait’s public prosecutor has launched an investigation into the incident. The probe aims to uncover the circumstances behind the incident and what might have triggered the deadly fire, the public prosecutor said on X.

Indians constitute 21 per cent (1 million) of the total population of Kuwait and 30 per cent of its workforce (approximately 9 lakhs).

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah has issued directives for the distribution of financial assistance to the families of the deceased, Sheikh Fahad said, without mentioning the quantum of the compensation.

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